Mike Rowe is probably best known as the host of the television show “Dirty Jobs”, which aired for several years on the Discovery Channel. Rowe would travel to various places to give viewers a glimpse of what it is like to perform some of the most disgusting jobs on the planet. These dirty jobs included some of the nastiest chores in agriculture, industry, construction, the medical field and many other occupations. If you can picture the grossest chore imaginable, it was probably featured in an episode of “Dirty Jobs”.
What made the show interesting was that Mike Rowe was not content to merely stand behind the camera and narrate the action. No, he was always actually involved in performing the dirty work. Each episode showed him dutifully getting his hands–and usually all the rest of him—as filthy as could be.
There is a chapter in the Bible that reminds me of the show “Dirty Jobs”. It’s John 13, where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.
In the first century, it was considered to be a common courtesy to provide the service of foot washing when a guest would enter your house. After walking in sandals on dusty or muddy roads, one’s feet would become quite dirty, making the foot washing necessary. Since this task was so unpleasant to perform, it was reserved for the lowliest servant in the household.
It is interesting that Jesus chose to humble himself by washing the feet of his disciples. Important people usually try to avoid such work. Why would the Lord of the universe stoop to perform such a task? And the context is interesting as well. Jesus is in the process of trying to prepare himself and his disciples for his upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. You would think that Jesus would have other things on his mind besides washing the feet of his disciples! But he had an important lesson to teach them, and us, about the importance of humble service in his kingdom.
Jesus wants us to know that we must practice humility. Jesus gave us an example of this when he humbled himself by leaving heaven to come here to earth. He further humbled himself by allowing himself to be falsely accused, horribly mistreated and ultimately put to death on a cruel, painful cross. By washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus was simply giving one more profound example of the humble way he came to serve mankind.
The purpose of this demonstration was to set an example for his followers to perform acts of humble service. While the need for foot washing is not as prevalent as it was in the first century, there are many modern day “dirty jobs” that we can perform for one another to show our desire to follow Jesus’ example in humble service.
Have you ever worked to unclog a toilet in the church building? Maybe you helped clean up a church building after it had been flooded or damaged by a fire. Perhaps you held a container for a friend to vomit in as they suffered from the side effects of chemotherapy. Some Christians have toiled on their hands and knees to scrub communion stains out of the carpet. Others have cleaned up messes when a child dropped a plate full of food at a church dinner. Have you ever tried to minister to a poor person who did not have the means to practice good personal hygiene?
There are any number of “dirty jobs” in the kingdom that humble servants of Jesus perform every single day. When one of those jobs presents itself, let’s have the humility and the desire to jump in and get our hands dirty!